Dirty Restaurant Secrets

Times are hard and even restaurants are penny pinching. But are these restaurant tricks valid or are they just cheating you, the customer? Ben Widdicombe told all in his Slashfood article 10 Dirty Little Restaurant Secrets:

10. Using Cabbage in Place of Seaweed

Says a former maître d' at an expensive Chinese restaurant known for its celebrity clientele: "The owner figured his customers knew nothing about Chinese food (he was right) and was a genius at saving money. A specialty supplier used to provide edible seaweed for the popular seaweed appetizer, but when that got too expensive the boss began experimenting.

"The 'seaweed' on the menu ended up becoming thin strips of cabbage leaf, deep-fried, and then rolled in equal amounts of salt and sugar. It's possible even cardboard would taste good if prepared like that, but the dish remained a bestseller."

7. Topping Pitchers of Beer with Seltzer Water

Don't think the fiddling is restricted to top-shelf liquors, either. "In sports bars that sell pitchers of beers, the thing to do is to top the pitchers off with seltzer after the table has ordered like the third one," a source says. "The drunker the guys, the more seltzer they get." [...]

4. Serving Rotten Meat

A steakhouse employee in New York says that sometimes not all the meat is as fresh as it should be. "It's an old trick to keep the steak that's past its prime and wait until somebody orders it well done or medium-well," the insider says. "The more you cook the meat, the more you disguise its flavor. When I'm eating out I never order anything higher than medium rare, because I know how the kitchen gets rid of bad meat."


Care to share your own food service experience?

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Test the cleanliness of your table -- you will be surprised. Check some actual results here: http://www.tabletesters.com. If you are a Facebook member, please join the group!
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I worked at a very upscale restaurant. No bread reusage, no chutney reusuage, no crazy digging food out of the garbage. It was all very clean, organized, and the food was made with care. The WORST thing that we did, was since we were poor waitstaff, if a diner didn't finish their steak or something, we'd cut the eaten on part off and slice it up and finish it for them. Sad, but we were hungry. We looked forward to the older guys with the arm candy. They ordered big, but the girls never ate too much.
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I worked at a DQ for almost 10 years from HS thru college and The Chili came frozen in a jug.
I never messed with peoples food no matter how much of a jerk they were.

Grilled chicken comes pre-cooked and frozen, all they do is "boost" it in a microwave.
They "boost" all of the sandwiches to make the bun (which was toasted way earlier in the day) warm and melt cheese.
The gravy for the chicken strips comes as a Mix that you just pour into water, it is then held in a warmer ALL DAY. Along with the chili and the BBQ pork.

There's plenty more i could tell but i'll just leave it at that.
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I worked at a grocery store deli in the late '80s, and the deli manager grew up in the depression. She'd proudly tell us how her family ate "everything on the pig but the squeal."

One day, I was told to prepare the chickens for the roaster/spit thingie. I grabbed the case of chicken out of the cooler, and on opening it, was bowled over by the smell. It was a week outdated, and turning GREEN. The deli manager told me to wash it off in cold water and proceed.

I told her I wouldn't. She could do it herself if she wanted it done.

When I got home from work, I called and reported it to the health department.

Also, don't buy the cubes of cheese and pepperoni sticks. They just pare the mold off the bigger chunks and repackage it.

The sandwich spread made in the deli is leftover from the ends of meat chunks that are too small to slice. We always left out the head cheese and souse. That part's not too bad, but in order to make it look more pink and fresh, we were instructed to put in a couple boxes of cherry Jell-O powder...

I've got many, MANY more stories about grocery store delis and bakeries that would make you puke.
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